After long hiatus, UMC splits doubleheader against Mustangs

Jacob Shames
Crookston Times

After 11 days and a COVID-19 induced hiatus, the Minnesota Crookston baseball team returned to action Thursday with a doubleheader at home against Southwest Minnesota State.

The Golden Eagles defeated the Mustangs, 5-3, in the first game of the afternoon before falling 8-7 in 10 innings to cap off the day, moving to 17-3 on the season and 12-3 in NSIC play.

Minnesota Crookston was scheduled to face Minnesota State last Thursday, but positive COVID-19 tests the day prior to the game forced the Golden Eagles to quarantine. Thursday was their first time out of quarantine in any capacity since then.

UMC had just three hits in the first game, but made them count. After two strikeouts looking, it loaded the bases in the first inning when Brock Reller walked, Scott Finberg reached on an error and Jake Hjelle walked. Eli Jung then knocked a double into the gap in left field to clear them.

Three innings later, Tyler Jochen sat on a pitch and knocked it out of the park, his first hit of the season delivering the Golden Eagles a 5-0 lead. That was all Jake Dykhoff would need.

Tyler Jochen celebrates after hitting a home run.

Dykhoff pitched a complete seven-inning game, his fourth in as many starts, while striking out 11 and giving up just four hits and two walks. He was efficient all the way through, needing less than 40 pitches to get through the first four innings.

The Mustangs (10-16, 8-15) rallied late thanks to big hits of their own — a homer in the fifth inning and an RBI double in the sixth — but Dykhoff slammed the door shut in the seventh.

Big hits were the story of the second game as well. UMC and SMSU combined for seven home runs, which comprised 11 of 15 runs scored.

After Matt Bezdicek's two-run blast against Alex Koep put the Mustangs on top 4-1 in the third inning, Landyn Swenson homered to cut the lead in half. A walk and a hit-by-pitch set the table for Hjelle, who clobbered a 1-0 pitch to deep left field to give the Golden Eagles a 5-4 lead.

Minnesota Crookston held SMSU off the board the next three innings, but a Jake Hendricks solo shot in the seventh tied the game, and Derek Smith's second homer gave the Mustangs the lead in the eighth. They added an insurance run in the ninth on a single.

Scott Finberg prepares to swing.

UMC began the ninth inning with two strikeouts looking, but had the heart of its order stepping to the plate next. Mason Ruhlman worked a walk on five pitches, and Reller, tied for the NSIC lead in home runs, drove a deep ball to right field that seemed gone from the second it left his bat. It indeed was, tying the game at seven apiece.

The tie didn't last long, as Kip Gronholz hit a bouncing single through the hole on the left side to give the Mustangs the lead in the 10th inning. Jared Tschetter struck out two batters in the bottom of the inning to seal SMSU's win.

Hjelle and Swenson each had two hits in the second game for the Golden Eagles, who were outhit on the day 14-10. They struck out 15 times in the second game — 26 for the day as a whole — and were beset by four errors in the second game.

UP NEXT: The Golden Eagles will be on the road this weekend against St. Cloud State. The teams will play a doubleheader Saturday afternoon and a single game Sunday.

Brock Reller stands in.

UMC beat the Huskies twice in non-conference play in Fort Scott, Kan. in March, doing so by scores of 10-9 and 15-11.

MINNESOTA CROOKSTON 5, SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE 3 (7)

Southwest Minnesota State 0-0-0-0-1-2-0—3-4-2

Minnesota Crookston 3-0-0-2-0-0-X—5-3-0

  • WP: Jake Dykhoff (7.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 11 K)
  • LP: Hayden Molva (5.2 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 10 K)

SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA STATE 8, MINNESOTA CROOKSTON 7 (10)

Southwest Minnesota State 1-1-2-0-0-0-1-1-1-1—8-10-1

Minnesota Crookston 0-1-4-0-0-0-0-0-2-0—7-7-4

  • W: Jared Tschetter (1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K)
  • LP: Conner Richardson (1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K)

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